Rainbow Valley HTML version

XIII. The House On The Hill
There was a little unfailing spring, always icy cold and crystal pure, in a certain
birch-screened hollow of Rainbow Valley in the lower corner near the marsh. Not
a great many people knew of its existence. The manse and Ingleside children
knew, of course, as they knew everything else about the magic valley.
Occasionally they went there to get a drink, and it figured in many of their plays
as a fountain of old romance. Anne knew of it and loved it because it somehow
reminded her of the beloved Dryad's Bubble at Green Gables. Rosemary West
knew of it; it was her fountain of romance, too. Eighteen years ago she had sat
behind it one spring twilight and heard young Martin Crawford stammer out a
confession of fervent, boyish love. She had whispered her own secret in return,
and they had kissed and promised by the wild wood spring. They had never
stood together by it again--Martin had sailed on his fatal voyage soon after; but to
Rosemary West it was always a sacred spot, hallowed by that immortal hour of
youth and love. Whenever she passed near it she turned aside to hold a secret
tryst with an old dream--a dream from which the pain had long gone, leaving only
its unforgettable sweetness.
The spring was a hidden thing. You might have passed within ten feet of it and
never have suspected its existence. Two generations past a huge old pine had
fallen almost across it. Nothing was left of the tree but its crumbling trunk out of
which the ferns grew thickly, making a green roof and a lacy screen for the water.
A maple-tree grew beside it with a curiously gnarled and twisted trunk, creeping
along the ground for a little way before shooting up into the air, and so forming a
quaint seat; and September had flung a scarf of pale smoke-blue asters around
the hollow.
John Meredith, taking the cross-lots road through Rainbow Valley on his way
home from some pastoral visitations around the Harbour head one evening,
turned aside to drink of the little spring. Walter Blythe had shown it to him one
afternoon only a few days before, and they had had a long talk together on the
maple seat. John Meredith, under all his shyness and aloofness, had the heart of
a boy. He had been called Jack in his youth, though nobody in Glen St. Mary
would ever have believed it. Walter and he had taken to each other and had
talked unreservedly. Mr. Meredith found his way into some sealed and sacred
chambers of the lad's soul wherein not even Di had ever looked. They were to be
chums from that friendly hour and Walter knew that he would never be frightened
of the minister again.
"I never believed before that it was possible to get really acquainted with a
minister," he told his mother that night.
John Meredith drank from his slender white hand, whose grip of steel always
surprised people who were unacquainted with it, and then sat down on the maple
seat. He was in no hurry to go home; this was a beautiful spot and he was
mentally weary after a round of rather uninspiring conversations with many good
and stupid people. The moon was rising. Rainbow Valley was wind-haunted and